A tale of two hos­pi­tals

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Motoring -

It must have been a bit dis­con­cert­ing for the cit­i­zens of Basil­don to dis­cover this past fort­night that their hospi­tal has the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of com­ing bot­tom of two sep­a­rate league ta­bles. The gov­ern­ment watch­dog, the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion, iden­ti­fied among the hospi­tal’s sev­eral fail­ings “a lack of ba­sic nurs­ing skills, ward cur­tains spat­tered with blood, mould on vi­tal equip­ment and pa­tients be­ing left in ca­su­alty for up to 10 hours”. Mean­while, the pri­vately funded health in­for­ma­tion ser­vice, Dr Foster, also gave it the low­est pa­tient safety rat­ing of 148 hos­pi­tals, based on 13 cri­te­ria in­clud­ing death rates, sur­gi­cal er­rors and in­fec­tion con­trol mea­sures. What to make of this? Why should the Basil­don ex­pe­ri­ence be so dif­fer­ent from, for ex­am­ple, Bas­ingstoke, whose de­mo­graphic char­ac­ter­is­tics as a new town, built to ac­com­mo­date the Lon­don over­spill in the Fifties, is very sim­i­lar. But Bas­ingstoke is a true cen­tre of ex­cel­lence, whose sur­geons are widely recog­nised as ma­jor pi­o­neers in can­cer surgery. Over the past 10 years I have had the op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on this ques­tion, hav­ing vis­ited and lec­tured at more than 40 hos­pi­tals, and dis­cov­ered how read­ily one can dis­tin­guish the good from the less good. This has noth­ing to do with the usual ex­cuses of lack of fund­ing, an­ti­quated fa­cil­i­ties or “poor man­age­ment”. Rather, the cru­cial fac­tor is the col­le­gial­ity of the med­i­cal staff. In the “good” they al­most all at­tend the lunchtime aca­demic meet­ings and there is much vig­or­ous dis­cus­sion. In the “less good” they can’t be both­ered. It might seem a small mat­ter, but it is easy to see why this could make all the dif­fer­ence.


Fur­ther to the com­ments last week from those who act out their vivid dreams to the dis­com­fort of their part­ners, a reader from Milton Keynes de­scribes how her 65-year-old hus­band has, while shar­ing the mar­i­tal bed, “hurt and bruised me, which came to a head when I ended up on the floor”. He is, at the time, un­aware of his ac­tions but on be­ing wo­ken re­counts dreams in which he is ei­ther be­ing chased by wild an­i­mals or play­ing bad­minton. Th­ese noc­tur­nal dis­tur­bances should not be con­fused with the sud­den body jerks or “pe­ri­odic leg move­ments”, where part­ners find them­selves on the re­ceiv­ing end of a kick. Th­ese may, if very trou­ble­some, war­rant treat­ment with a small dose of the tran­quil­liser clon­azepam.

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